Tuesday, September 1, 2009

BJ's for Everyone

The year is 2020. The United States has been foreclosed on by China and the ascendance of discount supermarket clubs is the subject of a U.N. commission report:

“There was a sawing sound coming from behind the meat counter, and every once in a while a cry that sounded like a bleating lamb, but could have been a child. A special all-access pass was necessary to get into the VIP area, where organs were freely traded.

“Many of the Friday-night shoppers had piled their carts with gigantic bags of rolls and the obligatory double-wide family packs of hot dogs. A shipment of Korean-made fuses had just arrived, along with outlet covers, boxes of splints, and cans of blue paint with Cyrillic lettering.

“The ceilings were extremely high but nothing was out of reach. There were no minarets or spires. The architecture radiated space without striving.

“There were darkened flat-screen televisions by the cash registers, obtainable through special promotional programs in which defaulted home mortgages could be traded in for Fun-Bucks. There were also customers who filled their shopping carts with bad loans.

“At the very end of the food court was a small concession where copies of rogue nuclear weapons contracts signed by Abdul Quadeer Khan, the creator of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, were sold alongside vintage copies of The New York Times from the moon landing and 9/11. The stand was like a mutant eBay on steroids, with parcels of unprocessed Uranium and low-grade nuclear weapons snapped up by middle-aged women wheeling boxes of fertility drugs.

“High-level intelligence operatives were travelling incognito, relegated to the lower reaches of the food chain, hunting day and night for black-box trading algorithms. Commodities traders fulfilled contracts for 2,400-packs of Diet Coke, while second- and third-generation ARV’s (antiretroviral drugs) were priced by technicians in hospital whites. Live AIDS viruses had yet to become popular discount items.

“One member of management argued that international slave trading, a necessary evil for which there was great demand, would soon be dominated by the large chains.”

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